I know version 1 is known for flare, but I'm not convinced that version II is much better. One of the only reviews I can find for the II is from Ken Rockwell, and the flare picture he has for that is just as bad or worse than the version I. I'd like to see a side-by-side comparison or hear from someone with first-hand experience before I spend the extra $150 on the new one. I'm sure it's better (or they wouldn't advertise it that way), but is it noticeable or significant?
If you get the 11-16 II, let me know how it works out for you! In the mean time, I'll keep waiting to see if a used version I becomes available.
This is my favorite website for finding dark places in the US:http://www.jshine.net/astronomy/dark_sky/
Green or darker is typically good, but it can take a lot of driving to get somewhere dark enough. Where I am right now, the nearest green zone is about 2 hours away, and that's not even spectacular. The nearest blue zone is about 3.5 hours away. Getting to light gray is 4.5 hours minimum, and there is no dark gray zone east of Nebraska!
Here's a shot of the Milky Way in a green light pollution zone on a very clear night. It was taken with my 18-55 IS II at 18mm, 30s, ISO1600 on my T3i.IMG_3113.jpg
, on Flickr
I think it's not bad, though it is pushed to the limit in terms of ISO, noise, and exposure time (rotation of the earth). I think a barn door tracker is the way to go since I can't afford a full frame camera with better noise performance and because ultra wide lenses don't get much faster.
I did a series of shorter exposures that night hoping to stack them, but that didn't really work the way I expected. For some reason I was thinking they would add and make a brighter picture with less noise, but most of the faint detail in the shorter exposures was just lost in the noise. Maybe I'm just not doing the stacking right.